Erynn: Favorite drink to order at Starbucks?
C.J.: Triple grande cappuccino. Sometimes I order with sugar free caramel or vanilla flavoring too. Yummy!
Oo. That does sounds really good! Tell us a little bit about how you got started writing.
I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember. I think that’s what really spurred on my writing. I too wanted to tell stories like the authors I read. I actually dabbled in guitar and oil painting as well but was never completely satisfied with them. I realized later both were attempts to tell stories, but nothing clicked like writing fiction.
When I was a teen I discovered you could actually learn how to write better through instruction books, and I devoured every one I could get my hands on. Through years of practice and plenty more reading I was blessed to have my work published. My first short story was accepted for publication when I was eighteen. Little victories like that helped me stick with writing until eventually my first novel, Thicker than Blood, was published by Tyndale House.
Such an amazing story! I love how you mentioned that writers tend to also be creative in other ways as well! Summer or winter – which one do you prefer?
If I can’t have fall, hands down I’d pick winter. I am not a heat/humidity kind of gal! I’d rather bundle up.
Yay! Me too! With a hot cup of coffee, preferably. Any new books out or in the process of coming out?
My latest novel is Bound by Guilt, which released this past spring. It’s the story of a troubled teen named Roxi Gold who finds herself on the wrong side of the law. She’s searching for love and acceptance, and through her journey I hope readers will catch a glimpse into God’s heart for those like her.
I’m currently writing my third novel. Hopefully I’ll finish it up before year’s end!
I absolutely love your novels! I love how real your characters are. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Plotting doesn’t usually come easily for me. Once I have an idea of where I want to go, the writing flows so much more smoothly. Problem is, I’m not an outliner, so most of the time I’m discovering things right alongside the reader. That often makes for some cool serendipitous moments, but it’s also frustrating at times. But really… if writing were easy, everyone would do it.
Love hearing that you aren't an outliner either. I think it makes writing so much more interesting for the author! Tell us a little about the genre you write in. Why did you pick that route?
I never consciously chose to write in the contemporary fiction genre. It just so happens the stories that spoke to my heart fit into that genre. Often I’ll sprinkle in elements of other genres, like suspense or YA, into my stories. I write the stories God puts in my heart and let the genre chips fall as they may.
That's exactly what I tell everyone who asks me what genre is selling - you've got to write what you feel God is calling you to write, not what is currently selling. So, what is your favorite part of writing?
When the picture in my head ends up appearing on the page exactly like I envisioned it. This usually doesn’t come on the first draft, or even the second or third. Most times it takes lots of editing and tweaking and honing to get it right. But when I’m done, it’s thrilling when a scene really works.
I love that feeling? Care to share who's your favorite character you’ve ever written?
Roxi Gold is one of my favorites for sure. She’s so vulnerable and yet shows a great deal of strength throughout the story of Bound by Guilt. Another favorite is Beth Eckert, the young veterinarian from my first novel Thicker than Blood (and who also has a cameo in Bound by Guilt). I had a lot of fun writing her!
Got any advice for prospective authors?
Write the story of your heart. Don’t worry about markets, editors, or readers. At least not when you’re first starting out. There’ll be plenty of time for that later. But if you’re not passionate about a story, it will show on the page. And remember---writing is an apprenticeship. Go in knowing it can take years to be published and you won’t be as discouraged on the hard days.
Wonderful, fabulous advice! Ok. You have an entire day with nothing planned – what would you do if money was no object?
I’m a pretty simple gal. I’d probably go to Starbucks, then go horseback riding, and after that take in a movie (with lots of popcorn!) before heading out to dinner. I’d fall asleep with my doggies in bed reading a good book.